Urban beekeeping keeps cities healthy

07.02.2016. 15:46

Urban beekeeping is the practice of keeping bee colonies in urban areas. It is healthier and more productive than country beekeeping.

Many of us will remember our childhood growing up, maybe you got stung by a bee, you saw bees on flowers. Think of the kids today. Their childhood’s a bit different. They don’t experience this. The bees just aren’t around anymore. That is why is urban beekeeping important – every city needs healthy honey bees!

What’s it all about ‘urban beekeeping’?

It’s about keeping bees in an urban setting where they are in close proximity to people. This may mean a hive in a small garden, on a roof, or an allotment. You don’t need a huge amount of space to keep them. It is possible to have bees in the city and you know what… the honey is gorgeous because our urban honeybees have such a variety of plants and flowers to choose from. Here you can find some tips & tricks of planting an attractive garden.

Let’s think about urban living, not today, and not in the past, but what about in a hundred years? What’s it gonna look like? We have huge grand challenges these days of habitat loss. We have more and more people, billions of people, in 100 years, God knows how many people, and how little space there will be to fit all of them, so we need to change the way that we see cities.

Looking at picture one on the left of New York City today, you can see how gray and brown it is. We have tar paper on the rooftops that bounces heat back into the atmosphere, contributing to global climate change, no doubt. What about in 100 years, if we have green rooftops everywhere, and gardening, and we create our own crops right in the cities? We save on the costs of transportation, we save on a healthier diet, and we also educate and create new jobs locally. We need bees for the future of our cities and urban living.

Picture 1. New York City as an example of urban beekeeping

Is beekeeping fit for urban areas?

There are several arguments against keeping bees in urban settings, and many in favor of it. It is often argued that honeybees in cities are a danger to public health and well-being, a nuisance when they are active or swarming, and that they prevent one’s neighbors from enjoying their own property. It is also sometimes argued that bees belong outside of town because they are associated with farms.

Arguments in favor include that honeybees are not dangerous, are no more a nuisance than the average neighbor’s barking dog, benefit the gardens of other citizens, and provide educational opportunities. Furthermore, encouraging more hobby beekeepers could help stem the tide of collapsing colonies, raise awareness of this issue, and produce delicious honey for people. There is a growing and important interest in urban farming and gardening, and beekeeping fits very well in that trend.

Do bees like living in the city?

Bees are surviving better than in the country. They also produce more honey. There are a number of possible reasons.

  • Parks, gardens and other green areas in cities provide bees with a greater variety of food.
  • The average temperature in the city is higher than in non-urban areas. This means it is easier for the bees to survive during the winter.
  • In cities the use of pesticides is not as common as it is in rural areas. In other words, Colony Collapse Disorder is not the only thing affecting bees.
  • As a result, bees have a higher survival rate in cities than they do in the coutryside. The research carried out in the USA has shown that urban bees have 60% survival rate compared to rural bees with only 40 to 50% survival rate.

So remember, cities need bees, and bees need cities!

http://www.urbanbees.co.uk/faq/faq.htm, http://www.biofortified.org/2012/06/keeping-bees-city/, http://pszczelarium.pl/en/faq/pszczola-w-miescie/,
Image: http://www.wbur.org/2011/07/29/city-bees